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Accounting for spatial correlation in the scan statistic. (English) Zbl 1126.62107

Summary: The spatial scan statistic is widely used in epidemiology and medical studies as a tool to identify hotspots of diseases. The classical spatial scan statistic assumes the number of disease cases in different locations have independent Poisson distributions, while in practice the data may exhibit overdispersion and spatial correlation.
We examine the behavior of the spatial scan statistic when overdispersion and spatial correlation are present, and propose a modified spatial scan statistic to account for that. Some theoretical results are provided to demonstrate that ignoring the overdispersion and spatial correlation leads to an increased rate of false positives, which is verified through a simulation study. Simulation studies also show that our modified procedure can substantially reduce the rate of false alarms. Two data examples involving brain cancer cases in New Mexico and chickenpox incidence data in France are used to illustrate the practical relevance of the modified procedure.

MSC:

62P10 Applications of statistics to biology and medical sciences; meta analysis
65C60 Computational problems in statistics (MSC2010)
62M30 Inference from spatial processes
62J15 Paired and multiple comparisons; multiple testing

Software:

SaTScan; geoRglm
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References:

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